Everyone has to deal with stress at work. Personality conflicts, the pressure of deadlines, hostile work environments, increasing workloads, and poor work conditions can all contribute to stress at work.
If you’re like most people, you may not know how to cope with stress at work in an appropriate way. According to the American Psychological Association in 2012, 65% of Americans attribute work as a top source of stress, and only 37% of Americans surveyed said they were doing an excellent or very good job at managing stress at work. Many people use alcohol, marijuana, porn, prescription pills, and excess food to cope with work-related stress. These habits eventually create problems that add to the original problem of stress.
We have identified 5 healthy ways that you can cope with stress at work so that you can find emotional balance and contentment no matter what’s going on at work.
- Pace Yourself: It is common for those who start a new job to work extra hard in order to make a good impression. You may come into work early and stay late, take on additional projects, and keep quiet when something is wrong. It may seem that this will help you get ahead, but it has hazards. Once you set a precedent that is unrealistic and impossible to maintain, you are setting yourself up for a fall. If you can’t keep up the pace, you will become exhausted and resentful if you are expected to continue to perform at this unrealistic level. If you relax at all, it will seem as if you are slacking at your job, which could jeopardize your livelihood. The solution is to do a good job from the beginning, but be realistic about what you can and cannot do. Only do the job that you know you can consistently do for the duration. Otherwise you will be disappointed, and so will your superiors.
- Communicate: One of the main sources of job dissatisfaction and stress comes from lack of communication. If you don’t communicate with your co-workers and your boss, you will end up stressed out and unhappy. When you need help in your job, ask for it. If something doesn’t seem right, speak up and get your concerns addressed. Keep an open dialogue with your boss so you can go to him or her when something is wrong. And look for opportunities to praise and express appreciation for others around you, when warranted. Having an attitude of goodwill and gratitude will have a positive effect on you, as well as everyone around you.
- Take Breaks: When the workload is heavy and deadlines loom, it’s easy to neglect your breaks. This is a big mistake. You need breaks in order to relax and recharge. Just 10 minutes away from your desk and the phone can do wonders for your mind and your psyche. And don’t ever skip lunch. You must feed your body and mind with the nourishment it needs to get through the day. Coffee and donuts won’t cut it. Take a full lunch break, away from your desk and your work. Spend time outside and take in a little nature. Listen to classical music on your phone. Take a walk with a co-worker. Your breaks will help you put work into perspective and make the rest of your day easier.
- Don’t Gossip: When you feel frustrated at work, it’s natural to want to talk about others. Gossip is a way that we throw off stress and negative emotions. The problem is that it can also create more negativity and stress in your life. If you have a habit of talking about others behind their backs at work, you will be more likely to fear that others are doing the same about you. Worrying about what others are saying about you will only add stress to your life. When you disparage others you create negative energy that will only weaken you and your ability to do your job. Take the high road and sidestep the urge to say negative things about others or to be a busybody. Practice only saying nice things and see how much easier and more enjoyable your job becomes.
- Prayer and Meditation: These are two practices that can make your life better in every way. When you find yourself having trouble with someone at work, pray for them. Instead of ruminating on how much you dislike them, begin to pray for their wellbeing. Pray that their heart is softened toward you and others and that the stress in their world subsides. Doing this will not only help the problem resolve itself, it will have a positive effect on you mentally and physically. In addition to prayer, learn how to meditate. Having a meditation practice is one of the best things you can do to alleviate stress. When you meditate your body is able to throw off stress and enables you to become more emotionally balanced. When you take time each day to meditate you will be slower to anger or judge and quicker to forgive and move beyond problems that arise.
Stress kills. The more stress you have, the more vulnerable you are to physical problems, as well as day to day life and relationship problems. Learning how to deal with stress at work is essential for a happy and productive career and home life.